So you’ve decided it’s time to learn your way around the kitchen, but you don’t really know where to start. From knife basics to budget stretching to proper food storage, here are the most important things you’ll want to learn as you become a master chef.
Photo remixed from an original by Zhukov Oleg/Shutterstock.
9. Learn Your Basic Kitchen Skills
You might already have a few tricks up your sleeve, but to make sure, check out our station-by-station guide to becoming a kitchen pro, where you’ll learn how to use those knives, how to keep your oven in shape, make the most of your dishwasher and more. You might also want to check out these six kitchen skills you can pick up over the weekend, which is great if you’re a bit short on time.
Image: Sara Björk.
8. Make Recipe Creation and organisation Easy
Even the best chefs start with a basic recipe, and the more you can start building up your library, the better you’ll get at cooking those dishes. Start with our 10 dishes and drinks everyone should know how to make and file them away in a recipe organiser on your iPhone or Android. When it comes time to cook something you don’t have a recipe for, we’ve got you covered with the five best recipe search tools, too. If you really want to make your life easy, you can mount that iPad right in your kitchen for $US3 and have quick access to your recipe tools at all times.
Image: Liz West.
7. Stretch Your Budget
We can’t repeat this enough: Just because you want to get into cooking doesn’t mean it needs to cost a load of money. You can improve your meals a lot with some simple tricks and skills, more so than you might buying expensive ingredients from fancy stores. Check out our guide to eating like a foodie on a budget for more info.
6. Pick Out the Right Produce
One of the things that can make or break a good meal is the quality of produce you use, and it isn’t hard to find good produce at a cheap price. Make sure you buy locally and in-season to start. Each fruit and vegetable has its own tricks to finding out whether it’s ripe or not, so be sure to learn these simple tricks for selecting fresh, ripe produce, no matter where you are.
5. Use Your Refrigerator Effectively
Once you start loading up on food, chances are your fridge is going to get a little crowded. You probably don’t need to store all your food in the fridge; though. Be sure you’re using your fridge and freezer to their maximum potential, so your food stays fresh and safe for as long as possible.
4. Learn to Grill Like a Champion
Don’t be afraid to venture out of the kitchen once in a while, especially when the weather’s nice — just because you’re a foodie now doesn’t mean you can grill the heck out of some steaks. If it’s too cold to head out to the grill, though, you can still cook a great steak in the oven, or cook it sous-vide for perfection every time.
Image: Another Pint Please….
3. Perfect the Art of Substitution
Every great chef knows a little experimentation never hurt anybody, and with some clever substitutions, you can take a good dish to great with no work at all. We’ve featured a few of these before — like using lemon juice instead of salt, baking pie crusts with vodka instead of water and flavoured salts instead of messy sauces. Don’t be afraid to try new things; you never know where they’ll take you.
Image from Secret Tips From the Yumiverse.
2. Bust Those Food Myths
We hear a lot of things in popular culture about food that just aren’t true — like that wooden cutting boards don’t go well with meat, or that salt makes water boil faster. If you really want to be a whiz in the kitchen, make sure none of these myths are in your knowledge base, as they can often make a big difference in how you cook your food. Check out our list of 10 stubborn food myths that just won’t die for more information.
Image remixed using a photo by Alex Galt.
1. Stay Healthy
Food is tasty, but it can also mean the difference between a high-energy workday and lethargic, midday exhaustion. Take a look at the modern version of the food guide pyramid (it’s probably much different than you remember) and learn how it works to better craft your meals for good health. When it comes time to shop, make sure you get all the right food groups in your trip (and to avoid the bad ones). Food is great for a lot of things, but you don’t want to do more harm than good. Make sure you keep everything balanced and all things in moderation, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a master foodie in no time.
We’ve featured mountains of food tips here at Lifehacker, and this is just a smattering of the important skills and tips a budding foodie should know. Check out our food tag for more useful kitchen tricks, and if you’ve got your own essential food knowledge to share, sound off in the comments below.